Aug 2014 / Learners

Published: South Wales Echo & Western mail

An aspiring teacher from Cardiff is among an increasing number of youngsters looking towards alternative training routes in order to pursue a career in some of the UK’s most traditional professions. 

Lewis Tucker, 18, from Llanrumney, is just one of many now choosing work-based training opportunities over more traditional academic pathways as the parity of esteem for vocational training continues to rise.

While others in his peer group nervously anticipate their A Level results and the challenges of university life this autumn Lewis will be looking to secure his first professional role as a newly qualified teaching assistant, as a precursor to eventually becoming a fully-fledged teacher through subsequent on-the-job training.

Lewis, from Llanrumney, said: No one in my family really went to university so applying to attend wasn’t a process I was really familiar with, and when I realised I could pursue my dream of becoming a teacher without a degree I just thought ‘is there any need?’

‘University fees are so expensive these days and I feel like I stand to learn a lot more by applying the theory I’m learning in the classroom to work I’m doing within an actual school setting at the same time.’ 

Following his GCSEs, Lewis signed up to complete his Level 2 Diploma in Teaching Assistance with Wales’ largest training provider, ACT Training, which has experienced an increasing shift in traditional perceptions towards vocational training in recent years. 

It comes after Wales’ Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology revealed a record rise in the number of people starting apprenticeship earlier this year and Higher Apprenticeships in Wales saw an unprecedented surge in popularity, with 2,275 created within the same period in comparison with just 280 in 2011/12 when the programme was introduced.

As a result ACT Training is keen to raise further awareness of the varying vocational training routes now available via its ‘School’s Out Campaign’, which aims to show school leavers that college and university need not be the only way. 

Andrew Cooksley, Managing Director at ACT Training, said: “It’s important to remember that, as the popularity of vocational training continues to rise, it does not mean the resulting opportunities our young people are aspiring to achieve have changed as a result.

“Changes in the economy and in our education system mean the way employers are looking to recruit the workforce of tomorrow have changed too – some of the UK’s most prestigious organisations such as MI5 and MI6 now run their own apprenticeship schemes, for example.

Andrew continued: “It’s no surprise young would-be professionals are choosing to gain valuable experience through such opportunities over more traditional academic routes, therefore, and Lewis is a great example of someone who has been supported to pursue a professional and fulfilling career via alternative means.

“He is someone that anyone collecting their GCSEs or A Level results this summer should definitely bear in mind when deciding on what comes next.” 

Established more than 25 years ago, ACT Training has centres across Wales and a range of training opportunities including traineeships, apprenticeships, higher apprenticeships and essential skills training in numeracy and literacy.